- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a compromise spending plan for the state’s 2017 fiscal year, which begins on Friday.

The six-member conference committee said Wednesday that they plan to file the budget in time for House and Senate lawmakers to give it final approval and ship it to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk on Thursday.

Baker has 10 days to review the budget before signing it and issuing vetoes.

Democratic Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka said Wednesday that the committee had to reduce anticipated revenues for the new fiscal year by $750 million, bringing the budget’s bottom line down to $39.1 billion.

Baker has said the revenue gap could be as high as $950 million.

Spilka blamed the drop in anticipated revenues on the volatility in the stock market, specifically a reduction in expected capital gains tax revenues. She said the $39.1 billion budget represents an increase in spending of less than 2 percent over the current 2016 fiscal year’s estimated spending.

To help close the budget gap, Spilka said the spending plan makes cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, known as MassHealth, although it maintains eligibility standards. Other areas that will face cuts include administration, information and technology, and sheriffs departments.

“This was a tough fiscal time,” Spilka said of the effort to reach a balanced budget plan during dwindling tax projections.

Spilka told reporters that the budget negotiators sought to protect some areas - including spending on K-12 education, opioid addiction efforts and local aid to cities and towns - as they came up with a final spending plan.

Spending on the five-campus University of Massachusetts system will increase by 1.4 percent. The budget also limits future Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fare increases to no more than 7 percent every two years.

The budget plan will face an up-or-down vote in both chambers on Thursday. It cannot be amended.

Baker signed a temporary $5.3 billion budget on Monday to keep state government running through the end of July.

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